Nearly 100,000 in California to lose a jobless benefit in May

SACRAMENTO — Close to 100,000 jobless Californians will lose as many as 20 weeks of federal unemployment insurance benefits by the end of May, state officials warned.

The extra benefits of as much as $450 a week are part of a federal extension to the regular state program known as Fed-ED, for Federal-State Extended Duration benefits. That will reduce the benefit period to 79 weeks.

The federal government instituted Fed-ED in March 2009 to help the long-term unemployed in California during the worst recession in 50 years.

But that assistance, the fifth such extension of benefits, is set to expire in May because of improvements in the Golden State’s economy and a drop in the unemployment rate to 11% in March.

The California Employment Development Department is sending notices to recipients to alert them that their Fed-ED payments are about to end.

“The particularly harsh recession left many people unemployed for long periods of time,” EDD Director Pam Harris said. “The Fed-ED extension assisted them with a final 20 weeks of federal benefits while they continued to search for their next job.”

“Still, we know this is hard on our clients,” she said. “We’re doing everything we can to get word out so they can plan accordingly.”

Currently, the unemployed can get as many as 99 weeks of benefits: 26 from EDD and 73 weeks of extensions paid by the federal government.

Total benefits will drop to 89 weeks May 13 and 79 weeks starting May 27. An additional four tiers of federal assistance are set to continue through the end of the year, though six more weeks of aid will expire Sept. 1, the EDD said.

California now provides unemployment insurance payments to more than 1.1 million people, with most receiving help from the federal jobless extensions, the state said.

In all, the unemployed received $17.1 billion from the state and federal programs last year, plus nearly $4.7 billion this year through April 13.